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Respect

Businesses everywhere have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout their activities and business relationships. That means avoiding infringing on the rights of people, and addressing negative impacts where the business caused or contributed to them.

Pillar II: Business Responsibility to Respect

The second pillar of the Guiding Principles provides a blueprint for businesses to prevent and address negative human rights impacts. This blueprint is made up of eight elements — click on the elements below to explore each one. 

As companies implement the eight elements, they should also keep in mind these overarching concepts:

  • The “blueprint” of the Guiding Principles is a risk management approach – but the focus is on risk to people, not just risk to the business;
  • The responsibility to respect human rights extends throughout a company’s own operations and all of its business relationships throughout its value chain;
  • Compliance with local law may not be sufficient to meet the expectations of the Guiding Principles;
  • Companies cannot offset negative impacts on people by “doing good,” such as through philanthropy or staff volunteering.


1. Commit

Making a public statement

2. Embed

Making respect part of company culture

3. Assess

Moving from reactive to proactive

4. Act

Walking the talk

5. Track

Knowing if it worked

6. Communicate

Explaining the company's efforts

7. Engage

Conducting meaningful dialogue

8. Remediate

Ensuring early warning and effective solutions

Building Capacity on the UN Guiding Principles in Ghana

June 2014 | Partners: Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Centre for Research on Multinational Enterprises (SOMO)

Shift and the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice jointly organized three capacity building workshops in Accra for various stakeholder groups.

Organizing the Human Rights Function Within a Company

May 2014 | Shift; UN Global Compact

This UN Global Compact good practice note examines different models for how companies assign responsibility for human rights within the company, and compares relative merits of each model.

Costs of Company-Community Conflict in the Extractive Sector

May 2014 | Rachel Davis and Daniel Franks; Shift and Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This groundbreaking research quantifies the costs of getting stakeholder engagement wrong in the extractives sector – namely, the costs of conflict between extractive companies and local communities.

Pointing the Way Forwards on Non-Financial Reporting

April 2014 | Caroline Rees

The adoption of the EU law on non-financial reporting is a potentially pivotal moment for the advancement of responsible business conduct.

Business and Human Rights Impacts: Identifying and Prioritizing Human Rights Risks

January 2014 | Shift

This report reflects learning from a workshop with 12 Dutch companies together with expert stakeholders about how companies can identify and prioritize human rights risks and test their findings through stakeholder engagement.

Supporting Effective Factory-Level Grievance Mechanisms With the Better Work Programme

December 2013 | Partners: Better Work Programme, International Labour Organization

In collaboration with the ILO's Better Work Programme, Shift developed a manual for Enterprise Advisors to integrate guidance on effective factory-level grievance mechanisms into the support that Better Work provides to factories.

State of Play of Corporate Human Rights Reporting Initiatives 2013

November 2013 | Shift

This resource reviews regulatory and stock engage requirements on corporate reporting that reference human rights. The research took place in 2013 – since that time, a number of corporate reporting requirements have been developed or amended.

Using Leverage in Business Relationships to Reduce Human Rights Risks

November 2013 | Shift

This resource walks readers through how a company can systematically and strategically influence the behavior of others, including in its value chain, when seeking to prevent or address human rights risks.